Com­ing to Canada

’Canada is a good coun­try,‘ proved to be so true for this fam­ily

Our Canada - - Features - by Glo­ria Rosi­lyn Fraiman Soban,

My par­ents ar­rived at the port of Halifax, on De­cem­ber 18, 1927, from a small vil­lage in Poland. The first thing that im­pressed my fa­ther was a ba­nana. He’d never seen one be­fore and didn’t know if he should eat the peel. He soon found out when he at­tempted to do so. None­the­less, his first words upon land­ing were, “Canada is a good coun­try.”

From Halifax, they trav­elled on the Cana­dian Na­tional Rail­way to Toronto, ar­riv­ing at Union Sta­tion, which had just opened a few months prior. My mother was in ab­so­lute awe. “This is Toronto?” she said, tak­ing in the grandeur. She had no idea what she was com­ing to.

My fa­ther came over, lit­er­ally, with only the clothes on his back, and had to bor­row five cents to buy a me­mo­rial can­dle to light in mem­ory of his de­ceased fa­ther. He was given a help­ing hand by another Jewish fam­ily who had ar­rived in Canada be­fore him. My fa­ther got a job as a presser in a fac­tory on Spad­ina Av­enue and con­tin­ued work­ing there for 40 years.

Ev­ery year, we went to the Cana­dian Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion, bet­ter known as The Ex, to see the new items that were go­ing to be pro­duced in Canada: cars, stoves and re­frig­er­a­tors. We would also get to see the new fash­ions that my fa­ther would be work­ing on in the com­ing year.

All travel around the city was via the Toronto Tran­sit Com­mis­sion. We had the great­est re­spect for the driv­ers who got us safely to where we were go­ing.

My mother loved go­ing to the movies. As soon as my fa­ther would get home from work, she would leave for the movies, af­ter she’d given him din­ner. We lived by Bruns­wick Av­enue and Bloor Street, so she had three choices of the­atres: the Bloor, the Mid­town and the Al­ham­bra. At that time, the the­atre gave out free place set­tings, so de­pend­ing on which part of the place set­ting you needed, that was the lo­ca­tion you chose. I still use those dishes to­day and have also passed some of them on to my daugh­ters and their fam­i­lies.

When my sis­ter got mar­ried, she and her hus­band moved to Wind­sor, Ont. We all loved tak­ing the train to visit them. That is also how we went to Expo ’67 in Mon­treal. While there, we went to a cousin’s cot­tage in Sainte Agathe in the Lau­ren­tians. We were all im­pressed to hear my cousin con­vers­ing with oth­ers in French.

In gen­eral, ev­ery­one made do and life was much sim­pler. There was no health care, so dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple set up so­ci­eties, paid dues and hired a doc­tor to ser­vice their needs. When my mother saved up money, she shopped at Ea­ton’s and re­ferred to Mr. Ea­ton as her Un­cle Ti­mothy. My par­ents could not af­ford to travel much on their bud­get, but by work­ing hard they suc­ceeded in rais­ing chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. Ex­cur­sions were a Sun­day pic­nic lunch on the grass at ei­ther Queen’s Park or Cen­tre Is­land.

It has been more than 90 years since my par­ents first came to Canada and so much has changed. But the one thing that has not changed nearly a cen­tury later is the sen­ti­ment that my fa­ther ex­pressed when he first ar­rived: Canada is a good coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.